Very scary situation down at Tūroa Ski Area in New Zealand when two workers were nearly swept away by an avalanche that left a 700-meter debris field and carried a snow cat about 200m down a ski run called Vertigo.
Stuff.nz reports a pair of resort employees in their 20’s were watching the avalanche control team setting off avy bombs when a bigger than expected slide broke loose. The ran for cover and found refuge in a “big reinforced building designed to take a lahar going over it, but the door got mostly buried.”
Here’s the official update from the resort’s Facebook Page:
“HIGH NOON UPDATE (RAL CE ROSS COPLAND): This morning at Turoa an avalanche struck the top of the High Noon Express chairlift. I am on site now with our engineers and can confirm Tower 15 will need to be replaced. We are working to inspect the haul rope and other components to determine how long the repair work is likely to take. At this stage I can confirm the lift will be inoperable for at least one week. If the Haul Rope is damaged that could require us to import a new rope from Europe (months). We will keep you posted on repair progress as we know more.”
Here’s another announcement from the resort immediately after the incident:
IMPORTANT ANNOUCEMENT (RAL CE ROSS COPLAND): This morning at Turoa during routine avalanche control work a significant avalanche has been triggered. At approximately 0830 a number of start zones responded simultaneously with a large flow through “Gliding Gladys”. No-one was injured and all RAL staff are accounted for. The High Noon Express chairlift has suffered damage and engineers are responding to assess the extent. The upper mountain is closed at both ski areas today, keep an eye on our website snow report for latest details. All backcountry tourers are urged to check the latest avalanche advisory before venturing into the back country at www.avalanche.net.nz